Mumbai: The Adivasi farmers who gathered in large numbers at Azad Maidan on Monday had a common demand from the government — to regularise forest farmland, so they can get the ownership of the land and means of livelihood. Jeerabhai Waman Lelke, an elderly woman from Dindori Taluka of Nashik, said that only in the monsoon do they far and earn some livelihood, while in summer and winter they can’t farm as there is no way from where they can provide water to the crops.
As the forest farmland on which these adivasi communities cultivate crops from last many decades are not owned by them. They cannot construct any pipeline or cement tank through which the farmland can get water. Therefore, their demand is to bring some regularisation in forest farmland policy.
Lelke added that in their Dindori district there were many small villages which have merely hundred people population.
“We don’t have pakka houses (cement house) nor we get Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) gas cylinders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks about subsidy and other housing schemes but we get nothing. We are far away from getting any government schemes facilities.”
Another protestor — Kusum Gawande — standing in the scorching heat at Azad Maidan with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) red flag, said, “Adding to our woes, now the government has introduced thumb system to get foodgrains from the ration shop, and as the machines remain defunct most of the time and many a times it don’t even accept the thumb we don’t foodgrains from ration store. With no proper means of livelihood and now due to the digitalisation we poor are suffering the most.”